Windows CE vendors are claiming that there will be no conflict between large CE computers and Windows notebooks - despite the remarkable similarities between the machines.
Hewlett-Packard will ship the Jornada 820 CE machine into the UK market around the end of the year, at a price of about #850.
The Jornada is the size of a small notebook, with fully functional keyboard and mouse. Although it has no permanent hard drive, data can be stored on a removable IBM microdrive or Hitachi Flash card.
Samsung is also prototyping a CE machine of a similar size.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison last week dubbed CE "Microsoft's biggest mistake", because it offers all the basic functions that most users want from their clients - word processing and a browser - at a fraction of the cost or complexity of Windows 2000.
But HP countered there would be no point in putting CE on a laptop. "HP wouldn't put CE on a laptop because we don't want to compromise price point or battery life, nor do we want to lose instant on," explained Dennis Hamann, worldwide marketing manager at the HP personal computer division.
The Jornada is predominantly a machine for Email and diary functions, not word processing, he argued.
Microsoft also rebuffed claims that the CE device could become a desktop replacement. "I call it the Jupiter (the next version of Windows CE, scheduled to appear in January) test," said Philip Holden, group product manager at Microsoft. "If anyone is confused as to whether these devices will replace the notebook, I volunteer to take away their desktop for a week and replace it with a CE machine."
Microsoft announced earlier this month a joint venture called Wireless Knowledge with telecoms firm Qualcom, to give CE the capability to connect to a host without a standard telecoms modem. Micro-soft is also evaluating the Bluetooth initiative. This helps to close the gap between CE and Symbian, formerly Psion software.
But the real dogfight will be won and lost on which vendor or consortium gains the support of the telecoms carriers, claimed Holden.
CE proves non-starter at Dell
Dell told PC Week it has no plans to enter the PDA market because CE has failed to gain acceptance in the corporate arena.
"We have no plans for CE. We don't build PDAs because we think they are a niche market," stated Morton Topfer, vice chairman of Dell. "CE is having difficulty gaining acceptance. Even the PalmPilot is having difficulty getting accepted in the corporate market."
Instead, Dell will produce smaller lightweight notebooks running NT and Windows 9x. The company aims to break the 3lb barrier with such machines.
The new models, scheduled to be released over the next few months, will not be as small as a rivals, such as a Toshiba Libretto, as Dell believes it is important to keep a bigger screen on a thinner notebook.
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